Evaluation of a feeding programme in addressing malnutrition in a primary school

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Napier, Catharina Elizabeth
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The main objective of this study was to determine the level of malnutrition in a primary school(children aged six to 13 years old) in an informal settlement and to plan and implement a school-feeding intervention programme. Before and after the intervention blood was drawn from 160 children. Quantitave Food Frequency Questionnaires and 24-hour recall questionnaires were completed in interviews with the parents. Anthropometric measurements included weight-for-age, BMI-for-age and height-for age. The baseline results (QFFQ and 24-hour recall) indicated that zinc (64%), iron (83%) and energy intake levels (59%) were lower than the recommended range for children in this age group when compared to the DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes). Food most commonly purchased and consumed were maize meal, tea, sugar and oil as indicated by the top 20 foods purchased list With regard to anthropometric indices, 10% were severely underweight (weight-for-age below ≤5th percentile from the reference NCHS median), 15% were severely wasted (BMI-for-age ≤5th percentile) and 15.3% severely stunted (height-for-age ≤5th percentile). A maize meal wholewheat vetkoek was developed that provided 25% of the daily needs of the children for zinc and iron, making use of ingredients from the top 20 list The vetkoek was biochemically tested and optimised to ensure optimal nutritional content The vetkoek was also sensory analysed by a sample of school children (n=30) for acceptability. The vetkoek was administered for seven months, daily except for school holidays and weekends, to 60 randomly selected children forming the experimental group, with 60 other children receiving a fruit as the control group and 40 children receiving the Primary School Nutrition Programme. The post-intervention results indicated that the children in all three groups ignificantly improved in weight and height and their zinc and iron intake also increased significantly. The post-intervention dietary intake results showed that the product contributed significantly to the quality of the diet. The vetkoek group consumed 358% of iron and 176% of zinc when compared to the DRis, with the PSNP group consuming 167% of iron and 99% zinc and the fruit group 200% of iron and 120% of zinc. Although few statistically significant changes occurred biochemically, clinical changes occurred in all three groups. This study proved that any food provision can have a beneficial impact on the growth of a malnourished child.
Thesis (D. Tech. (Food Service Management, Dept. of Hospitality and Tourism)--Vaal University of Technology